Feb. 19, 2013 -- So long, Hotmail. We'll always remember you and all your 1990s glory.
Microsoft announced today that its new webmail service, Outlook.com, is coming out of beta testing and is now ready for primetime. The service, which was announced last July, now has 60 million users and will now replace Hotmail.com, Microsoft's older webmail system. Microsoft's Hotmail, which was originally MSN Hotmail, has been online since 1997.
Hotmail users will still keep their Hotmail.com email addresses and their contacts and emails will all be moved over, they will just now get a new user interface and all the new features of Outlook.com. Microsoft expects the upgrades for Hotmail users to be complete by this summer.
Outlook.com was designed with a similar aesthetic to Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. It also includes new social features and a sorting option called Sweep. The Sweep feature moves newsletters, promotional messages and other recurring emails into their own folders or to the trash.
Microsoft said at Outlook's launch that those features would differentiate it from its competitors, including Google's Gmail, which is the most popular webmail service with over 425 million users. Microsoft also took a swing at Google's advertising policies -- which are at the heart of the new $30 million Outlook.com advertising and marketing campaign.
Microsoft began running its "Scroogled" campaign last year, and has recently been running video ads on the web attacking Gmail and Google's ad targeting, which shows you ads based on words in your messages. "We don't go through your emails to sell ads," a narrator says in Microsoft's latest "Scroogled" advertisement.
"Google goes through every Gmail that's sent or received, looking for keywords so they can target Gmail with paid ads. And there's no way to opt out of this invasion of your privacy," Microsoft's Scroogled.com site says. "Outlook.com is different -- we don't go through your email to sell ads."
Google responded last week: "Advertising keeps Google and many of the websites and services Google offers free of charge," Samantha Smith, a Google spokesperson, told ABC News. "We work hard to make sure that ads are safe, unobtrusive and relevant."
Microsoft holds that it does not scan the text or subject lines of emails. Microsoft does advertise, however, in Outlook; its ads are based on broad demographic information -- such as gender, age, and ZIP code -- that users provide when they sign up.